AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC ACCESS NETWORK ASSOCIATION INC.
ARBN 081 355 722
ABN 74 766 293 648
2008 ANNUAL REPORT
2007/2008 period has been a difficult time for APANA with all regions
seeing a slow but steady decrease in membership and erosion of the base
of technically skilled members who can be called upon to maintain
equipment and provide advice to others. These problems caused by these
losses have been alleviated to some extent by rationalisation of
equipment and services within the regions. The decreasing membership
has, as in previous years, resulted in a reduction of new ideas,
projects, and general enthusiasm. A key factor in the rescue of the
organisation's declining fortunes has been the willingness of regional
administrations to make hard decisions, including the "outsourcing" of
dial-up connection services to an external provider and upgrading
The financial situation
has improved due to cost-cutting and rationalisations within the
regions. As always, we must recognise that all organisations change
throughout their lifetime along with the changing requirements and
aspirations of their membership, and that APANA is no different.
continues to be an organisation boasting an efficient structure with a
core of dedicated executives and general membership. The improved
financial and network situations will allow us to look ahead to
the future with more renewed confidence.
The key tasks in the immediate future as I see them are:
1. Improve financial stability and security
2. Ensure the relevance of the organisation's services and goals for existing and potential new members
3. Consolidate equipment, services, procedures and organisational knowledge to minimalise losses and reduce
workload on existing technical and executive members
4. Increase membership levels
*ACT region closed due to insufficient members.
period of 2007-2008 has seen APANA membership fall by 26 members with
most losses occurring in the larger regions of South Australia, Hunter
and Brisbane. Minor losses occurred in Sydney, Melbourne, ICR and ACT.
Perth, incredibly recorded an increase.
Whilst a loss of members
is unfortunate, it should be pointed out that this years loss is much
smaller when compared to losses of previous years. This wasn’t entirely
unexpected as the number of dialup users continuing to migrate to
commercial broadband operators also slowed, hence those users still
using APANA dialups are either satisfied with the service or have no
need for a broadband connection. The coming year will most probably see
further loss of members, albeit at a declining rate.
As of yet,
APANA still has not determined a future direction for the organization,
given that the services offered by APANA are in very little demand
these days by the general public. APANA simply cannot compete against
commercial operators in terms of service and price for provision of
internet services. This has been mentioned many times in previous
reports and at Management Committee meetings.
Finding a future
direction for APANA is not easy. As this is a not for profit user
group, we must find a niche to operate out of. The existence of the
internet in general has greatly diminished the need for many internet
and computer user groups, as there is so much free information
available on the net, there seems little point in people joining a user
group to exchange information.
Although, the Management
Committee has discussed several possible ideas in the past, nothing has
been implemented for various reasons. But we must still keep ideas
flowing as well as looking for unmet needs that may be developed and
incorporated into APANA.
In the mean time, APANA will need to
carefully watch its financial situation as further reductions in
membership will mean equipment expenses (electricity, main links etc)
will need to be carefully monitored and operations will need to become
past financial year APANA has managed to reverse the trend of previous
years recording a substantial surplus for the first time in many
years. That this happened in a climate of continued membership
losses is surprising but is substantially due to the demise of the
'let's wait and see' attitude at both the Management and Regional
Committees levels. In the past, these committees appeared to be
reluctant to reach a decision or implement changes before sorting out
every minor detail which often delayed any action being taken before
substantial losses had been incurred. Fortunately, for APANA that
didn't happen this past year and all regions are to be commended for
their prompt attention and action to all problems as they occurred.
were a number of events that occurred during the course of the year
that have aided our financial situation considerably. The most
notable of these was the relocation of South Australia's hub; the
cancellation of the National BPay service; cancellation of the AGM
travel allowance for Management Committee members; the reduction of the
number of ports leased from ECN and the migration of the majority of
Hunter Region's dialup members to the ECN Ports which allowed most of
the region's phone lines to be disconnected and benefited all other
regions using those ports by reducing their share of the port costs.
the exception of Brisbane and Perth, all regions recorded a surplus for
the year. However, Perth and Brisbane's deficits were both less
than $100 which I consider reasonable as it represents less than the
loss of one full fee-paying member in each region.
In the past
year, there were only six new members. Of those three joined
Hunter; two joined SA and one for Perth. APANA lost 39 members in
total during the past financial year - nine of those were lost in the
first month. Perth was the only region which didn't lose any
members over the course of the year while Brisbane and Hunter lost 11
members each although Brisbane's were all access members while Hunter's
were mainly APANA members only.
Officially, ACT is now a
'non-region' with no income and no expenditure and less than the
required number of members to form a region. The only reason it
still appears is due to its substantial remaining balance - no decision
has been made as yet regarding the reallocation of these funds.
at last completed what can only be considered a financially successful
year and while I am still optimistic about APANA's financial future,
the continued decrease in membership remains a constant cause for
concern and this needs to be addressed by every region and its members
as the future of the current services that APANA is able to offer
depends on having stable membership levels.
has had a relatively quiet year with only one or two outages that
caused problems for dialup members over a short period of time.
This was helped by our authentications being processed through Odyssey,
with the National machine for backup.
The number of dialup
members has dropped and this is a sign of the times and perhaps
something to reflect on. Many ISP's are not offering this service
so it stands to reason that those people still wanting a dialup service
will probably stay with APANA as there are few other places to
go. However, the sign of the times is that ADSL and Wireless are
taking over, people preferring a faster, more efficient service and
24/7 connectivity. We need to be more competitive in this market
and obviously cannot compete with larger companies that can offer
'cheap' bundling of services. However, many do not realise that
this 'cheap' service is, in fact, not cheap as we all know that the
user pays one way or the other; however, this fact often eludes people
looking for a cheap connection, making it impossible for us to compete
in the market. However, APANA do offer a service that others
don't, having the ability to provide static IP's, shell accounts, a
dialup service, the ability to access your Internet anywhere within
Australia, and ADSL, ISD and Wireless connections. On top of this
we also have a team of interested people who are all experts in their
field willing to help even the most inexperienced with any problem.
currently only has three RC Members, being Doug Young, Peter Barlin and
myself. This is a huge problem in that we don't have the manpower
to fix problems as and when they arise, or to answer emails in a
professional and timely manner. Lack of interest in joining the
committee from our members has been a long-term problem. Almost
all our members join for the convenience and cheaper Internet
connection and do not have an interest in either being on the committee
or attending social functions. This is a huge worry because, as we
people's interests change, as do their lives, and people move on.
Thus, should anyone leave the current BRC, there is no one to take
Our finances are still in the red but we are very
slowly and surely closing the gap. This has been helped by some other
regions sub-letting ECN ports off us and also cancelling some ports
which has lowered our costs. However, it would be nice to get
some new members, which we have not had for a very long time, to offset
the costs and to get rid of our debt.
Our thanks go to the
National Regional Committee for all their support and help over the
past 12 months, which has been very much appreciated. In
particular I would like to thank Carolyn Baird, Jeff Toll, Steve Fraser
and Dean Hollister.
Brisbane looks forward to a good year for 2008-2009.
Deputy Regional Co-ordinator & Regional Finance Officer
has been fairly quiet this year. Regrettably, Hunter has lost several
members. Although some new members were gained, these gains were in
insufficient numbers to offset the region's losses. The majority of
members that Hunter has lost were APANA members only, so this did not
impact significantly on Hunter's financial situation until the later
months of this year. We have now reached the point where Hunter's lost
members have affected the region's finances, and the decision was made
to migrate as many of our remaining members to the ECN dial-ups as
possible, so that the number of Hunter's dial-in lines could be reduced.
There are three reasons for taking this course of action:
1. To assist other regions in turn by sharing the port costs.
2. To reduce expenditure on Hunter's own lines.
3. To save costs on hardware replacement, as the majority of Hunter's modems have lasted beyond their life expectancy.
the beginning of this year, Hunter had a number of problems with their
network machines. This was rectified when a number of machines were
donated to the region. Some income was gained from computer repairs,
however the amount gained is lower than that of the previous year. At
this point in time, our primary concern involves the consolidation of
Hunter's network machines, so as to reduce electricity maintenance
Though Hunter is still a viable region, recent concerns
have caused problems for both its members and management. There will be
opportunities throughout the current year to boost income for the
region via computer repairs, and we can only hope that this will be
enough to keep the Hunter region afloat in spite of member losses.
continues to operate as a small but stable region. Our membership has
stabilized at 15 members, 3 of which are users of the shared ECN dialup
ports and others are either shell access, DFT(ADSL) or membership only.
Although we have not had a regional meeting for several years,
I have kept in contact with many members when they report an occasional
Our server, Odyssey, has operated reliably with only a
few minor glitches occurring throughout the year. Currently it hosts
Perth member accounts and in addition, hosts email for Brisbane
members. Our main link continues to be an ADSL connection supplied by
Amnet, which also shares the connection with National server.
thanks to Dean Hollister who is sys-admin/deputy regional coordinator
for keeping Perth APANA and National equipment up and running and
helping out with APANA in general.
Like other regions of APANA, the outlook for gaining new members in Perth, is not good.
No report received.
South Australia Region:
has been a period of many changes for SA. After some uncertainty, the
new owners of Elizabeth House decided not to renew our lease, and so we
had to find a new home. Fortunately for us, we had removed the need
all but one of our phone lines when we went to ECN, and had replaced
our copper-pair based PAPL link to Internode with an ADSL-based
connection. So moving was very much easier than it would have been a
year or two earlier. It did however mean the removal of our wireless
connection into the "Air-Stream" network.
We moved the equipment
to a private home for an interim period, although a CBD business had
offered to house it for us. This may still happen.
equipment in a private home emphasised the need for both access by
other members and the need for redundancy if the home site had a
problem. This was highlighted by two Telstra faults in two months, both
of which had significant impact on all regions. We moved the hub to
another home temporarily in order to overcome those problems. We have
since built a complete redundant "standby" environment to be used in
case of future similar events. This system will provide minimal services if required.
the membership front, we have lost a few, but have also gained some new
web hosting members. So despite the losses, our finances seem quite
strong (due mainly to reduced overheads).
The social meetings
continue to be well attended by the regular group. Interestingly,
although much of the conversation is social, a recent potential member
attending the meeting saw us a being strongly technical, and joined up.
So it appears we do still have a potential market for technical minded
To close, my thanks to all the SA members who have contributed to the operation of the region and supported and encouraged it.
SA Region Coordinator.
No report received.